For some context: on March 29, VW said that it would call itself Voltswagen in the U.S., via a “leaked” incomplete press release. Then VW said that it wasn’t true, then it lied and said it was true and put out another press release announcing the re-branding. It wasn’t even April Fools when VW had already admitted that the whole thing was just a “prank.”
Der Spiegel (hat tip to CNET) is confirming that the Securities and Exchange Commission has officially launched an investigation into the “prank” and whether it might have influenced VW’s stock price. Should the SEC find a reason to believe that it did and that VW artificially boosted stock price by misleading customers and investors, it could be facing a hefty fine.
As per the same report, Volkswagen has pretty much admitted internally that the prank was a huge “fail,” which may have dented the brand’s credibility in the U.S. for a very long time. Clearly, it will never do so publicly. After the controversy died down a bit, VW Group of America chief executive Scott Keogh tried to explain how the prank was just VW being funny yet deadly serious at the same time (*about EVs). Hysterical.
“When you light a match like this, in the environment, and it gets us, you know, as much traction as it did, you’re just not able to control everything – every phone call, every text, every email, every engagement, every back and forth,” Keogh said. “But the idea came from a very Volkswagen place: Let’s have some fun. Let’s have a gag. Let’s show the world how crazy we are about EVs. Full stop.”
When you’re still reeling from Dieselgate, perhaps lying repeatedly, even if it’s on such an apparently trivial topic as a name change, is not a good idea.
What began as an April Fool’s effort got the whole world buzzing. Turns out people are as passionate about our heritage as they are about our electric future. So whether it’s Voltswagen or Volkswagen, people talking about electric driving and our ID.4 can only be a good thing. pic.twitter.com/Rzx8mJgxkT— Volkswagen (@VW) March 31, 2021